United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JOANNE N. YUHASZ, Plaintiff,
WELLCARE HEALTH PLANS OF NEW JERSEY, INC., et al., Defendants.
MICHAEL VAZQUEZ, U.S.D.J.
before the Court are motions to dismiss the Amended Complaint
filed by the following: (1) Defendant WellCare Health Plans
of New Jersey, Inc. ("WellCare"), D.E. 12; (2)
Defendants Prime Rehabilitation ("Prime
Rehabilitation") and Dana Boyle, D.E. 13; and (3)
Defendants Tatyana Marx, M.D., and Neurology Specialists of
Morris County, LLC ("Neurology Specialists"), D.E.
Plaintiff Joanne N. Yuhasz did not oppose any of
Defendants' motions.For the reasons that follow,
Defendants' motions are GRANTED.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Joanne N. Yuhasz brings this suit on behalf of herself and
her mother, Diana S. Yuhasz. Plaintiff alleges that she has
"full legal Power of Attorney and Medical
Authorization" on behalf of her mother, whose alleged
injuries are the primary subject of this matter. Am. Compl.
¶ 17, D.E. 1-1. Plaintiffs mother is a 95-year-old woman
who, from in or around September 2015 until at least November
2016, resided at Regency Grande Post-Acute Nursing &
Rehabilitation Center. Id. ¶¶ 22, 100.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant WellCare refused to provide
"medically-necessary 'skilled care'"
therapy. Id., ¶ 21. Moreover, at various times,
Plaintiffs mother was denied treatment because she "did
not possess the cognitive ability to receive physical
therapy." Id. ¶ 83. When her mother did
receive such treatment, Plaintiff further alleges, the
therapies were wrongfully terminated on the basis of her
mother's potential for improvement rather than her need
for the skilled care therapies. Id. ¶ 102. As a
result of Defendants' conduct, Plaintiff alleges that her
mother suffered serious bodily injuries including impairment
of her physical and mental faculties. Id., ¶
123. Plaintiff further alleges two distinct injuries to
herself: (1) expenses she incurred because of the denial of
care and benefits to her mother, and (2) intentional
infliction of emotional distress. Id. ¶¶
79, 81, 131-32, 152-55.
filed the Amended Complaint in state court on October 17,
2018, asserting eleven claims against Defendants including
theories of breach of contract, intentional infliction of
emotional distress, tortious interference with medical
treatment, and others. In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff
seeks monetary compensation for the "skilled care"
denied her mother, compensatory and punitive damages, special
damages, interest, and attorney's fees. On December 12,
2018, Defendant Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
("CMS") removed the matter to this Court pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1). D.E. 1. On January 30, 2019,
this Court filed a stipulation between the parties that
dismissed all claims asserted against CMS. D.E. 11.
Consequently, CMS is no longer a defendant in this matter.
The remaining Defendants subsequently filed the instant
motions to dismiss. D.E. 12, 13, 28.
of the pending motions to dismiss, Defendants argue, among
other things, that the Amended Complaint should be dismiss
due to a lack of subject matter jurisdiction under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and because Plaintiff fails to state a
claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
decide a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, a court must first determine
whether the party presents a facial or factual attack against
a complaint. A facial attack contests "subject matter
jurisdiction without disputing the facts alleged in the
complaint, and it requires the court to 'consider the
allegations of the complaint as true.'" Davis v.
Wells Fargo, 824 F.3d 333, 346 (3d Cir. 2016) (quoting
Petruska v. Gannon Univ., 462 F.3d 294, 302 n.3 (3d
Cir. 2006)). A factual attack challenges "the factual
allegations underlying the complaint's assertion of
jurisdiction, either through the filing of an answer or
'otherwise presenting competing facts.'"
Davis, 824 F.3d at 346 (quoting Constitution
Party of Pa. v. Aichele, 757 F.3d 347, 358 (3d Cir.
2014)). Here, in seeking dismissal for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, the parties rely solely on Plaintiffs
allegations in the Amended Complaint. Accordingly, Defendants
present a facial attack. As a result, like a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss, "the Court must consider the
allegations of the complaint as true." Mortensen v.
First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass 'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891
(3d Cir. 1977).
12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss a complaint that fails
"to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted[.]" For a complaint to survive dismissal under
Rule 12(b)(6), it must contain sufficient factual matter to
state a claim that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is
facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." Id. Further, a plaintiff must
"allege sufficient facts to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will uncover proof of her
claims." Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809
F.3d 780, 789 (3d Cir. 2016). In evaluating the sufficiency
of a complaint, district courts must separate the factual and
legal elements. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d
203, 210-211 (3d Cir. 2009). Restatements of the elements of
a claim are legal conclusions, and therefore, are not
entitled to a presumption of truth. Burtch v. Milberg
Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 224 (3d Cir. 2011). The
Court, however, "must accept all of the complaint's
well-pleaded facts as true." Fowler, 578 F.3d
at 210. Even if plausibly pled, however, a complaint will not
withstand a motion to dismiss if the facts alleged do not
state "a legally cognizable cause of action."
Turner v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., No. 14-7148,
2015 WL 12826480, at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 23, 2015).
addition, the Court notes that Plaintiff here is proceeding
pro se. Courts have an obligation to liberally
interpret a pro se litigant's pleadings.
Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir.
2011). Courts should thus apply the relevant legal principle
even when the complaint has failed to name it. Dluhos v.
Strasberg, 321 F.3d 365, 369 (3d Cir. 2003).
Nevertheless, pro se litigants must still allege
sufficient facts to support their claims. Mala v. Crown
Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013).